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I've never been much of a bicyclist, but recently I finally broke down and bought a new road bicycle (Specialized Allez model). The sales tech sized me with the bike, made a few adjustments at time of sale. I did not spring for the $125 fitting where all the micro-adjustments are made to the bike and me.

This weekend I competed in a short sprint triathlon, my first since buying the bike. On the 5k run portion (which follows biking) I had incredible lower back pain, right in the curve above my glutes. The pain was intolerable when I jogged, so I ended up walking over half the run leg. The pain subsided with time and I finished the race. I have no history of any back problems.

My question: Is this a training problem where I need to get busy with some exercises to strengthen my lower back, or are there adjustments that need to be made to the bike? Is this a common problem when acclimating to a new bike?

I should add that I'm a 51 year old male.

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this could be better answered over on bicycles stack exchange - there are a few questions there already on bike setup for specific individuals –  Rory Alsop Jun 11 '12 at 20:32

2 Answers 2

Some of this sounds like you just need to get acclimated. Another thing it may be is improper posture.

When riding a bike, you have to make sure to keep your spine curved outward, especially in your lumbar area. This allows your entire spine to absorb the shocks of all the little bumps in the road. If you try to straighten your spine or let it drop, your lumbar intervertebral discs are now what's doing the shock absorbing and that causes pain.

Now, your spine isn't used to this outward curve, especially in the lower lumbar area, and so it will complain at first even when you're doing it right. This is more of a muscle ache, where the lumbar musculature is expected to do work in a range of extension it isn't used to and so you'll have pain when you try to move in certain ways. If you don't have the proper posture, it'll feel like bone on bone.

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You need a bicycle that fits and is comfortable to ride any distance, but you should also train for the specifics of Triathlon.

Running off the bike is something you should train. Switching from cycling to running uses different muscles and is something you can train and get stronger at. You do not need to run a full 5K each time you do bicycle training, but once a week you should run 1 to 2 miles off a bike session. This is called a Brick session.

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